The delightful market town of Framlingham has been around since Anglo Saxon times. It has all the common features of a market town; an attractive central square known as Market Hill, the 14-16th century church of St Michaels and of course, Framlingham Castle. With a population of just over 7000, it is clear today that the town has flourished as a result of 1,000 years of development and of course, history.
In fact the history of Framlingham can be dated back to an entry in the Doomsday Book, 1086. At that time Framlingham was made up of several manors. William the Conqueror presented Roger Bigod with 117 manors in Suffolk, one of which happened to be Framlingham. In 1704, Bigod proceeded to become the Earl of Norfolk, building the first castle of the town in 1100.
The castle itself is constructed using five different kinds of stone, including Caen rock from Normandy. It has a curtain-walled structure and was the first of its design to be built in Western Europe. It may be so, then, that the castle attracted a great interest. Between 1100 and 1550, Framlingham Castle was occupied by the Bigods, who in 1285 granted that a market should be held for the citizens of Framlingham, a tradition still followed to this day.
The Bigods were succeeded by Thomas Plantagenet and his descendants (1312-1375) who were then followed by the Mowbray Dukes of Norfolk and the Howard Dukes of Norfork respectively. Perhaps the Castle’s most fascinating resident was the 3rd Duke of Norfolk (1472-1554) who was not only Lord Treasurer but also Earl Marshal, Vice-Roy of Ireland, Lord High Admiral, Ambassador in Paris and the richest lay-man in England – he was certainly kept on his toes! After living at the Castle until 1535 he built a country house at Kenninghall, which rivalled Hampton Court.
Whilst staying at Framlingham Castle in 1553, Mary Tudor was to formally accept the role of Queen of England!
Whilst Framlingham was occupied by this plethora of notable people it gained a strong status as the economic centre of vast estates. In fact all roads led to Framlingham. In the fourteenth century, £2000 of goods were managed by Framlingham warehouses, in those days this was a fantastic sum. The goods managed included all the farming products of the day including lampreys from Wales and pottery from Staverton and Hollesley in Suffolk.
Today, the oldest building in Framlingham aside from St Michaels Church and the Castle is No 8 Church Street, whose timbers date back from 1475. Other buildings alike clearly have Tudor origin. In fact The Guildhall was built in the late sixteenth century on the site of the house of the Guild of St. Mary, which was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1538. The complimentary mix of architectural design in Framlingham reflects periods including Tudor, Stuart, Regency and Victorian.Take a stroll along Double Street and you will find a Victorian Pillar Box made in 1856 by Andrew Hendy of Derby, an incredibly rare find.
The Victorian era also saw the rise in development of Framlingham’s medical creditability. Before the arrival of the railway in 1859 the town was fairly self-sufficient and contained. However during Queen Victoria’s reign the town boasted a theatre also. One particular surgeon, Sir Henry Thompson rose to become the surgeon for Her Majesty. The clock at St Michael’s church acts as a legacy to Thompson, placed there by the surgeon in remembrance of his parents.
Today Framlingham boasts lots for the travelling visitor. A quaint shopping experience awaits on the High Street. Framlingham Castle beckons you to explore the historic past of the market town. St Michael’s church bears homage to not only a famous surgeon, but generations of the Christian faith. Or perhaps you could discover Framlingham your way? Who knows, you may stumble across a remarkable discovery!